Q: I don't know why, but the concept of neural specificity and transfer of strength from one form to another is hard for me to grasp. Is it possible for a person to develop superior rate of force ability against heavy, maximum resistances and not have good rate of force activation in a lightly resisted movement that is pretty similar in terms of movement pattern and intramuscular recruitment requirements? I mean, if a person can activate his motor units as fast as possible in a heavy squat lift, why wouldn't all the strength gains he makes directly carry over to his vertical jump ability, or would they? Wouldn't the only problem be the need to perfect and refine his intermuscular coordination or technique in the vertical jump which only comes with specific practice?

In other words, isn't it true that a person can develop the neural factors associated with a particular skill to his or her highest potential simply by practicing that exact skill? If so, then couldn't a person just simply concentrate on gaining muscle from the weight room regardless of the neural similarity or specificity to the sports task(bodybuilding) and still be able to enhance their performance as long as they maintained their neural efficiency in the specific sporting task? Is the paranoia about weight room specificity due to the belief that performing exercises with little or no neural specificity to the sports skill might end up interfering with and producing a negative transfer effect that could ruin the athlete's neural programming for the sports skill?

On the 2nd part of your question you're exactly right. The only sport specific movements are the sporting movements themselves. The purpose of physical preparation activity is to strengthen the muscles in volved in a sporting movement so that when the sporting movement is undertaken it will be performed with more horespower. There is little need for most sports specific stuff out there. The only thing that needs to be duplicated in the weight room is the magnitude of muscle recruitment (effort), and direction of movement. The effort automatically occurs when you lift heavy stuff because the only way you can lift it is to put out some effort. It also comes when you try to lift a lighter load with great acceleration. With the direction thing, the reason a leg press sux is because the direction of movement is different.

The reason there can be a discrepancy between slow speed and high speed force activation is because one is much more rapid and there's less time to get all the motor units turned on. Just because you can get all your motor units turned on in .5 seconds (heavy squat) doesn't mean you can do it in .2 seconds.


Q: Will you consider writing an article similar to your Football Speed I & II, but for basketball? Thanks a bunch

I doubt if I will because most of the stuff on this site is directly applicable to basketball players even though there's not any "sport specific" basketball work. Basketball is played year around so there's no need to do the same sort've offseason sport specific with it like their is in football. Football players sit around for most of the year because it's not a sport played year around. That's why a routine for an offseason football player would have a lot more agility work etc. On the other hand, basketball players already play too much. All they need to do is boost up General motor qualities. In fact, if I could take every basketball player and make them train like football players for a year that would take care of most of the basketball players problems right there.

What would that entail??

Well that means the basketball player would not worry so much about getting too big and would instead concentrate on big eating in the kitchen. HOw many football players do you know that don't like to eat? That means the basketball player would focus on quality muscle mass gains. How many football players do you know who don't like to lift? That means the basketball player would focus on whole body strength gains and measured linear speed and agility development instead of some fancy new age gimmick.

In fact I was telling someone recently, the day you quit worrying about your vertical jump is the day you can drop down ass to the grass with 2 to 2.5 times your bodyweight in the squat while power snatching 1.25-1.5 times your bodyweight at under 10% bodyfat. Not only will you be as explosive as you want to be but you'll also be able to manhandle people on the court with your superior size and strength.

So, will the "football player" approach give the basketball player what he wants. Well, let's see. Here's a list of outside linebackers and their vertical jumps from this years NFL combine. Keep in mind these are LINEBACKERS. Which means they are not scrawny 120 pound outfits. Most of these guys are weighing 220 to 250 lbs in the 6 ft 2 range. They train to hit and to cause injury upon impact, not to jump. You be the judge.


Beck, Jordan--------6023 233 41
Blackstock, Darryl--6025 247 39
Boley, Michael------6026 236 34
Burnett, Kevin------6027 235 36
Cooper, Roger-------6023 235 35 1/2
Goddard, Johnathan--6002 238 35
Hagler, Tyjuan------5115 236 35 1/2
Harris, Marques-----6010 231 401/2
Johnson, Derrick----6032 242 37 1/2
Pettway, Kenneth----6032 234 32 1/2
Pollard, Jonathan---6010 247 35
Wake, Derek---------6026 236 45 1/2
Wallace, Rian-------6022 241 35 1/2
Ware, DeMarcus------6040 251 38 1/2
Welsh, Jonathan-----6032 40 1/2
Wortham, Cornelius--6013 236 7


Q: I cant figure out what my problem is because I was under the impression that a strong posterior chain contributes to running and jumping but according to my weight room numbers I have a great deal room for improvement in this area; however my 40 yard dash is 4.5 -4.6. Most people who can run the 40 in this time have 35+ verticals but my one step vertical is 30-31 inches and my standing vertical with no step is around 23-25 inches. Is it that I cant translate my force into vertical height? Something with my nervous system? Can you please give your opinion on the matter?

You are weak but probably just have a really good structure for sprinting and because of this you have good top speed. Compare your first 20 and your last 20. Chances are your last 20 is around 1.8 seconds or less. If you get stronger not only will your vertical improve but you'll get faster. You'll particularly be faster over the first 20.